The commentary reacting to the United Airlines passenger controversy achieved a new level of ridiculousness, Friday, when Fr. James Martin, a Jesuit priest, likened the issue to Jesus’s crucifixion.
Martin appeared near the end of the 8 p.m. Eastern hour of MSNBC’s Morning Joe with Matthew Gewirtz, the senior rabbi at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, New Jersey. Just prior to the segment, the morning show aired a report on the potential lawsuit against the airlines and Chicago’s city government over the incident.
When host Joe Scarborough asked Fr. Martin if Good Friday was the most important Christian holiday, the priest replied that it was Easter before segueing into a bizarre comparison between United Airlines victim, Dr. David Dao, and Jesus Christ.
Interestingly, as I was looking at that poor man being dragged through the aisles, I thought, you know, Jesus is beaten and bloodied and dragged through the streets of Jerusalem; and that poor man is beaten and bloodied and dragged through the floor of a plane. And I think something, really, in us recoils at that; and it should. It’s our conscience speaking and saying, that is not the way to treat people.
Fr. Martin is no stranger to controversial positions. Back in 2009, conservative Catholics took the Jesuit to task after he defended Notre Dame’s decision to invite President Barack Obama to be a commencement speaker. Martin said at the time:
I think it’s terrific that he’s coming to Notre Dame, and I think it’s terrific that, you know, he’s going to mix it up with the graduates…on this question of abortion….I think, you know, one of the things that is getting lost is I think the Catholic Church also needs to treat people with dignity and grace themselves. And I think to welcome the president — this guy with, you know, a tremendous record — I think it’s entirely appropriate, and I think if anyone has a problem with honoring him, I think they just need to look at his record.
More recently, in October 2016, the Jesuit cleric accepted an honor from a dissenting organization of LGBT Catholics, whose pro-same-sex marriage stance has been condemned by both bishops in the U.S. and the Vatican hierarchy.
Earlier in 2017, Fr. Martin Tweeted his support for transgender individuals and their push to use restrooms of the sex they happen to identify with.
#Trans students endure so many indignities already. They should be able to use whatever bathrooms they choose. It’s doesn’t hurt anybody.
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) February 23, 2017
After another Catholic priest, Fr. Matt Bozovsky, called out the Jesuit for having “distorted human dignity.” Fr. Martin’s Twitter followers became so vocal that Bozovsky had to temporarily protect his account.
I’ve learned my lesson. Don’t challenge Fr. James Martin or those who follow him will go on the attack. Sadly clear who they worship.
— Fr. Matt Bozovsky (@FrMatt2013) February 23, 2017
FYI, I temporary protected my tweets because for now I can’t babysit my account and delete vulgarity and hate. I’ve got another job. #souls
— Fr. Matt Bozovsky (@FrMatt2013) February 24, 2017
Despite all of this questionable public behavior, Pope Francis somehow found it fit to name his fellow Jesuit a “consultant” to the Vatican’s secretariat for communications on Wednesday — a detail that co-host Mika Brzezinski spotlighted at the beginning of the MSNBC segment.
[image via screengrab]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.